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Courses

Courses

The Department offers both undergraduate and graduate history courses each semester.  To view the Department’s current course offerings, please consult the University’s Course Information Center.  Below, we provide an overview of our undergraduate and graduate course courses. In particular, you will find information regarding ourundergraduate lower division courses (HIST 1000-level), undergraduate upper division courses (HIST 3000 and 4000-level), undergraduate “Theory and Methods in History” (HIST 4800) and “Senior Thesis” (History 4990) courses, and graduate courses (HIST 6000 and 7000-level).

Undergraduate Lower Division Courses

Since its external review in 2003, the Department has greatly expanded its lower division courses beyond its traditional coverage (U. S., Western European, Asian, and Latin American) and into Ancient, Middle Eastern, and Mediterranean histories. This substantial expansion, in terms of geographic and thematic areas, reflects a meaningful commitment by the tenured and tenure-track faculty to expose their students to a global history. Likewise, the Department's instructors have implemented a new one credit hour historical study seminar (HIST 1000) to introduce to the process of exploring the field of history.

The introductory (1000-level) courses are multi-part surveys of Ancient, Western Civilization (U. S. and Western European), Latin American, Middle Eastern, and Asian history. They are designed to provide students with a basic understanding of the political, economic, social, cultural, and intellectual developments of a civilization. The Department believes these courses are very important; they are usually students' first encounter with college-level history. Therefore, almost all of the full-time, tenured or tenure-track faculty and the four half-time instructors regularly teach the surveys.

The introductory multi-part series courses are bifurcated into two and four semester-long histories. The Department's existing European, U.S., Latin American, and Asian Civilization courses are divided into four or two semester-long courses. The Department and its students are particularly excited about Dr. Duvick's survey that vastly extends our offerings into the intricacies of the Classical world and Dr. Woodall's engaging survey that propels students into the study of the modern Middle East and its prominence in our world. Dr. Duvick's new offerings in the Ancient World include a two-semester survey course: Similarly, since her arrival in the department in 2007, Dr. Woodall has designed a range of course in the History of the Middle East, including a two-semester 1000-level survey course. These surveys: HIST 1600: Making of the Modern Middle East I and HIST 1610: Making of the Modern Middle East II significantly expand the department's curricular offerings. Both courses also fulfill the LAS Global Awareness requirement, contributing to the overall diversity of global offering for the College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences. Currently, Dr. Martinez, our newest faculty member, is evaluating if a two course lower-division survey of the medieval and early modern Mediterranean world would be a beneficial offering to students interested in the interconnections of this region and timeframe.

Overall, this organization of survey courses allows the faculty to assign not only secondary material but also a good deal of primary material in order to familiarize students with the original sources historians use in the actual practice of their craft. We can also spend more time covering in depth the causes and consequences of those events and historical transformations that we deem crucial. In addition, this four-semester sequence allows us to introduce students to historiographical debates over the interpretation of such events. In addition, we can spend more time engaging students in discussions, role-playing, editing one another's work, and other active learning experiences. College students need to begin grappling with the complexities and ambiguities of history. Only in this way, and not by being presented with a simple black-and-white narrative, can students begin to think analytically and to argue cogently and logically. Because we wish to develop such skills, and not rote memorization, exams in these surveys generally consist of essay questions with some short identifications that require students to give the historical significance of that which is being identified. Department members do not give true-or-false or fill-in-the-blank tests. Such exams may be easier to grade, but they do not encourage students to develop their analytical or writing skills. We are teaching history not as a chronological string of events and "facts," but as an interpretive process built upon facts. We require papers in these introductory courses designed to develop students' abilities to do research, read critically, interpret primary sources, develop a thesis, and write clearly and effectively.

Another departmental innovation was the creation of "Introduction to Historical Study" that is designed primarily for freshmen, sophomores, and transfer students who are history majors and who want direction and assistance in approaching their history classes and assignments. The course examines what history means and what the study of history entails. Subsequently, the course narrows in focus by concentrating on the writing of history--especially the particular methods, problems, and approaches associated with the historical discipline. To this end, students study the importance of thesis, evidence, and argument; types of historical writing (emphasizing the kinds of assignments students are likely to encounter in UCCS classes); and the kinds of technical and mechanical errors to avoid.

History majors are required to take 12 hours (four courses) of survey-level history-6 hours in one survey field and 6 in another. Non-majors often take 1000-level courses to fulfill area requirements in the College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences, as well as in other Colleges in the University. Majors and non-majors alike benefit from the more intensive coverage of an historical period made possible by these focused survey courses and from exposure to history as the act of interpreting the past, not just memorizing it, as many did in high school.

Undergraduate Upper Division Courses

The Department's upper division courses have dramatically increased due to the steady growth of the UCCS student body, as well as the Department's deliberate efforts to hire new tenure-track faculty members that offer new specialty courses (Ancient, Middle East, and Mediterranean) alongside of traditional U.S. and Western Civilization courses.

Upper division courses are usually organized thematically or topically around such subjects as "The History of Istanbul," "Mass Violence and Political Oppression: Story, History, Imagery," "The History of Ancient Rome," "Jesus in Red, White, and Black," "Vision and History in Native American and African-American Narrative," "The City in Latin America," "Orphans, Paupers, and Other Vagabonds in U.S. History, 1607-1937," "Vietnam: the war at home and in country," "Women of the Renaissance," and "From Baghdad to Burgos: The Medieval Mediterranean World." These courses are designed to increase students' reading, analytical, research, and writing skills. Assigned readings are usually not textbooks but monographs, journal articles, and primary sources such as documents, novels, autobiographies, and manifestoes. Paper assignments emphasize the development of research, interpretive, analytical, and writing skills. Examinations are generally in essay form, requiring students to marshal facts and build arguments, not just regurgitate lecture notes and reading assignments. Majors are required to take 21 hours of upper division (3000- and 4000-level) courses. Non-majors may take them as well.

Undergraduate Theory and Methods in History (HIST 4800) and Senior Thesis (History 4990)

The Senior Thesis, a research project requiring use of primary sources, is the capstone course for History majors. Using the knowledge of history and the writing, research, and analytical skills learned in previous history courses, every senior major undertakes a research project of his or her own, resulting in a 25- to 30-page paper. This course allows students to "be" historians, to investigate an issue, event, or historical problem that especially interests them, and provide the challenge of advanced scholarship. With the thesis, students prove to the faculty and to themselves that they can identify a topic, locate sources, develop a thesis, and write a coherent and convincing paper with appropriate endnotes or footnotes and bibliography. Formerly, the Department offered the senior thesis as an independent project done under the supervision of a tenured or tenure-track faculty member. Having found that many students had trouble staying on schedule, which resulted in incompletes and delayed graduations, the Department in the fall semester of 1994 made this a seminar course, taught only by full-time, tenured or tenure-track faculty. Offered every semester, the seminar provides more focus and structure for students, allows them to present knotty research and interpretive problems to their colleagues, gives them an audience of peers to critique outlines, drafts, and final papers, and reduces the sense of isolation that frequently accompanies the scholar working independently. This restructuring has proved quite successful. Not only are there now fewer incompletes, but students report relief that they meet weekly with others involved in similar projects. In general, we find as well that the quality and sophistication of the theses are much improved.

This latter point is doubtless due in part to HIST 4800, '''Theory and Methods in History," a course that Dr. Paul Harvey designed in 2001 further to prepare students for undertaking a senior thesis and which he has since offered every fall. The thesis is first evaluated by the professor actually teaching the course in five categories on a 0 (F) to 4 (A) scale, which are based on the goals we have established for our majors: (1) knowledge of subject, (2) research skills, (3) cognitive skills, (4) writing skills, and (5) reasoning skills. It is then read and critiqued by a second member of the department, who will also evaluate the first reader's grades for all five categories. We are thus able to measure a student's success in meeting departmental goals. The senior thesis, then, is truly the culmination of the history major's training.

Graduate Courses (6000 level and above)

The History Department offers a program leading to the M.A. The graduate program maintains high standards; it is taught only by full-time faculty with appointments to the University of Colorado Graduate Faculty. Prior to 1994, all seminars were reading courses designed to introduce graduate students to the primary and secondary readings relevant to the field of study. Students could focus on European or American history, but were required to take eight seminars, including one in historiography, a comprehensive exam in the field of their choice, and to write an M.A. thesis.

In 1994 we redesigned our graduate program in response to a common criticism that graduate training too frequently pushes students into narrow sub-fields before they have had the opportunity to develop an adequate background in their field. Believing strongly that students benefit from a broad base of historical study and that frequently one learns best by doing, the Department no longer allows students to specialize in any given area. Instead, they must take 21 credit hours from the specific historical fields offered by the Department: Ancient History, European History, United States History, Middle Eastern History, Asian History, and Latin American History. Seminars in any given field are offered over two consecutive semesters. The first semester in a field is a "readings" seminar (6000 level, 3 credit hours); the second semester is a "research" seminar (7000 level, 4 credit hours). Students may not take the research seminar unless they have completed the corresponding readings seminar. Students must complete the readings and research sequence in at least three historical fields for a total of 21 credit hours. No course may be taken twice for credit. Every student must also take History 6000, "Historiography," which examines (1) the intellectual development of history as a discipline, (2) sources, documents, and issues of authentication, and (3) varieties and schools of historical analysis. Students must also take 3 credit hours of Independent Study (History 9600) to prepare for the required final oral exam and presentation of a portfolio of three papers to the history faculty. In addition to History 6000, History 960, and the three readings-research sequences, each student must take one elective for 3 credit hours. This must be either an extra readings seminar or, by permission of the History Department Graduate Faculty Committee, a 3000- or 4000-level Department undergraduate course or a course at the 3000 level or higher in another department. Students who complete the M.A. program at Colorado Springs are well prepared to go on to Ph.D. work, having acquired the essential skills of the historian without having become overly specialized at an early stage in their graduate training.

The graduate reading seminars are organized by chronological period and familiarize students with the relevant primary and secondary literature in each field covered. Students read extensively every week and meet with their professor and colleagues to discuss, clarify, and argue about what they have read, developing their intellectual powers as historians. Students learn critical thinking and analysis through classroom presentations and written assignments, their graduate work, students must also pass an oral examination administered by three members of the graduate faculty and present and defend a portfolio of three papers.

Photo: New York-Paris race with Godard in motobloc leaving Paris with moving picture camera, Bain News Service, no date provided. From Bain Collection (Library of Congress).